John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama, and the Politics of Ethnic Incorporation and Avoidance: Mysticism and Myth in the Hekhalot and Merkavah Literature

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SUNY Press, Mar 1, 2013 - History - 254 pages
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Political analysts and journalists often draw analogies between John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic Irish president, and Barack Obama, the first African American president. Their election to the nation’s highest office was historic, but for reasons not fully appreciated. In John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama, and the Politics of Ethnic Incorporation and Avoidance, Robert C. Smith provides a fascinating comparison of the challenges both men faced in their bid for the presidency, while at the same time providing comparative histories of the Catholic Irish and African American struggles to overcome racial and religious subordination in America. Kennedy’s Catholicism was an explicit issue in the 1960 election, and once elected he was extremely careful to avoid appearing either “too Irish” or “too Catholic.” While Obama’s race was not an explicit issue in the 2008 election, he was just as careful to avoid appearing “too black.” Paradoxically religion—thanks to rumors and lies about whether Obama was a Muslim—became a substitute for race, allowing Republican strategists to “otherize” Obama by raising the issue of religion in the context of national security and terrorism.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
Understanding Ethnicity and Ethnic Incorporation in the United States
5
The Subordination of Irish Catholics and African Americans
13
Identity Consciousness Solidarity and Culture Irish Catholics and African Americans
25
Boston Chicago and the Rise of Kennedy and Obama
33
Ethnic Men The Al Smith and Jesse Jackson Campaigns
59
The Incorporation of the Catholic Irish and the SemiIncorporation of African Americans
77
Kennedy and Obama Charisma Character and Ethnic Identity
103
Religion and the Election of 1960
119
Race and the Election of 2008
139
The Politics of Ethnic Avoidance in the Kennedy and Obama Administrations
165
Conclusion
185
Notes
191
About the Author
243
Index
245
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About the author (2013)

Robert C. Smith is Professor of Political Science at San Francisco State University. He is the author of several books, including Conservatism and Racism, and Why in America They Are the Same; African American Leadership (with Ronald W. Walters); We Have No Leaders: African Americans in the Post-Civil Rights Era; Racism in the Post-Civil Rights Era: Now You See It, Now You Don't; and Race, Class, and Culture: A Study in Afro-American Mass Opinion (with Richard Seltzer), all published by SUNY Press.

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